New York State Court of Claims

New York State Court of Claims
FRANCE v. THE STATE OF NEW YORK, # 2018-015-188, Claim No. 124991, Motion No. M-93024

Synopsis

Pro se inmate's motion for summary judgment in medical malpractice case was denied.

Case information

UID: 2018-015-188
Claimant(s): SHANNON FRANCE
Claimant short name: FRANCE
Footnote (claimant name) :
Defendant(s): THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Footnote (defendant name) :
Third-party claimant(s):
Third-party defendant(s):
Claim number(s): 124991
Motion number(s): M-93024
Cross-motion number(s):
Judge: FRANCIS T. COLLINS
Claimant's attorney: Shannon France, Pro Se
Defendant's attorney: Honorable Barbara D. Underwood, Attorney General
By: Michael T. Krenrich, Esq., Assistant Attorney General
Third-party defendant's attorney:
Signature date: December 28, 2018
City: Saratoga Springs
Comments:
Official citation:
Appellate results:
See also (multicaptioned case)

Decision

Claimant, a pro se inmate, moves for summary judgment pursuant to CPLR 3212.

Claimant seeks damages for medical malpractice arising from the alleged failure of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) to provide timely treatment for a "cyst in [his] head" (claimant's attachment, Claim, p. 2). According to the allegations in the claim, claimant was seen by medical staff at Auburn Correctional Facility on July 19, 2001 "concerning complications with claimant's left eye (swelling)" at which time drainage but no swelling was noted (id. at 2). Claimant was thereafter transferred to Great Meadow Correctional Facility where he alleges that from 2003-2012 "he constantly and persistently complained of swelling and sever[e] pain in his left eye and left side of head" (id.). Claimant alleges that without the benefit of an examination or diagnostic testing, the facility physician determined his complaints were the result of either migraine headaches or possible reactions to his medications. On August 14, 2012 claimant complained of severe pain, swelling and numbness "within his head and eye" and was taken by ambulance to an outside hospital where surgery for the removal of a cyst was performed. Claimant alleges further that as early as 1999, DOCCS' medical staff were aware that claimant had suffered head trauma as a child as well as during the course of several confrontations with correction staff.

Claimant argues that summary judgment in his favor is appropriate because all of the defendant's affirmative defenses are meritless. In making this argument, claimant misunderstands the nature of his burden of proof. A party moving for summary judgment "bears the heavy burden of establishing 'a prima facie showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, tendering sufficient evidence to demonstrate the absence of any material issues of fact' " (Deleon v New York City Sanitation Dept., 25 NY3d 1102, 1106 [2015], quoting Alvarez v Prospect Hosp., 68 NY2d 320, 324 [1986]; see also Vega v Restani Constr. Corp., 18 NY3d 499, 503 [2012]; see also CPLR 3212 [b]). In this regard, CPLR 3212 specifically requires that a motion for summary judgment be supported "by a copy of the pleadings and by other available proof, such as depositions and written admissions" and that "[t]he motion shall be granted if, upon all the papers and proof submitted, the cause of action or defense shall be established sufficiently to warrant the court as a matter of law in directing judgment in favor of any party." Only where the movant has made this showing does the burden shift to the opposing party "to produce evidentiary proof in admissible form sufficient to establish the existence of material issues of fact which require a trial of the action" (Alvarez v Prospect Hosp., 68 NY2d 320, 324 [1986]). Here, claimant tendered no proof demonstrating defendant committed medical malpractice.

" '[A] [claimant] asserting a medical malpractice claim must demonstrate that the doctor deviated from acceptable medical practice, and that such deviation was a proximate cause of the [claimant's] injury' " (Majid v Cheon-Lee, 147 AD3d 66, 69 [3d Dept 2016], quoting James v Wormuth, 21 NY3d 540, 545 [2013]). The issue of whether a medical provider deviated from the standard of care and the extent to which such deviation caused or contributed to a claimant's injury is generally not a matter of common knowledge which a fact finder could decide in the absence of medical evidence (Matter of Barnes v State of New York, 158 AD3d 961 [3d Dept 2018]; Abascal v State of New York, 93 AD3d 1216, 1217 [4th Dept 2012], lv denied 19 NY3d 805 [2012]; Matter of Robinson v State of New York, 35 AD3d 948, 950 [3d Dept 2006]; Duffen v State of New York, 245 AD2d 653 [3d Dept 1997], lv denied 91 NY2d 810 [1998]; Macey v Hassam, 97 AD2d 919 [3d Dept 1983]). To meet his burden on the instant motion, therefore, claimant was required to support his motion with expert medical proof of a deviation from the prevailing standard of care and that such deviation caused or contributed to his condition. This he failed to do. As a result, the burden did not shift to the defendant to establish the existence of material issues of fact.

Accordingly, claimant's motion is denied.

December 28, 2018

Saratoga Springs, New York

FRANCIS T. COLLINS

Judge of the Court of Claims

Papers Considered:

  1. Notice of motion, undated and unsigned;
  2. Affidavit in support, sworn to October 20, 2018, with attachments;
  3. Affirmation in opposition, dated November 13, 2018, with Exhibit A.